Steve Rothgeb

World Cup Talk

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World Cup PL Influence Part 2

Wednesday, June 11, 2014


Today we continue our look at the Premier League influence on the 32 countries involved in World Cup 2014, wrapping it up with a glimpse at groups E through H.

 

As is the nature of world football, news is constantly changing, and an injury here or a tactical decision there can make one's opinion change on a dime. There is still some roster maneuvering going on as we speak as Southampton's Morgan Schneiderlin was just hours ago added to France's 23 man squad as an injury replacement. 

If you want the full experience of the World Cup, I recommend checking your twitter feeds once for about every 10 times you blink because the epic story that is the World Cup promises as many twists and turns as a Game of Thrones marathon. (Hey, it's not the worst analogy -- we've seen Zidane headbutts, Suarez biting habits, Joey Barton punching anything within arm's reach -- it can be a little Game of Thrones-ish sometimes) OK, I just referenced Joey Barton in a World Cup article, I think that is my cue to get this train back on its track before becoming completely derailed...

 

 

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GROUP E


Ecuador - (World Rank 26) 

 

PL Talent (1) -- Antonio Valencia (Manchester United)

Thoughts: Ecuador's lone PL rep is coming off a disappointing season for his club, but just about every Manchester United player can say the same thing. When times were good at Old Trafford though, Valencia was instrumental during his runs in the XI, showing position versatility and providing assists on the regular. The "home" advantage should help get a win during group stage, and I wouldn't be shocked to see them escape the group, a feat that partially hinges on which French team decides to show up for this tournament.

Group Prediction: 3rd

 

France - (WR 17)

 

PL Talent (10) -- Hugo Lloris (Tottenham), Mathieu Debuchy (Newcastle), Patrice Evra (Manchester United), Mamadou Sakho (Liverpool), Olivier Giroud (Arsenal), Bacary Sagna (Arsenal), Moussa Sissoko (Newcastle), Loic Remy (QPR), Laurent Koscielny (Arsenal), Morgan Schneiderlin (Southampton)

Thoughts: Plenty of influence here as nearly half of France's squad contains Premier League talent, including a trio of stars from Arsenal and Newcastle United. The loss of Frank Ribery is a major blow to their overall hopes but there is still plenty of talent to make it out of the group, provided the players and staff can get along with each other this time around. 

Group Prediction: 2nd

 

Honduras - (WR 31)

 

PL Talent (3) --  Maynor Figueroa (Hull City), Juan Carlos Gracia (Wigan), Roger Espinoza (Wigan)

Thoughts: The Hondurans have a few defensive oriented players from the PL and they have a pretty good forward whose at his prime age of 27 in Jerry Bengston who they will rely on for goals, but the overall talent across the board here is pretty thin compared to their opponents and a last place finish in the group looks the most realistic outcome here.

Group Prediction: 4th

 

Switzerland - (WR 6)

 

PL Talent (1) -- Phillipe Senderos (Aston Villa)

Thoughts: The Swiss are poised to make a deep run in the tournament, coming in ranked 6th in the world and sporting a very strong defensive unit which should provide positive results. The knock on them is that they are judged by some to have had an easy road in the qualifying stages and are not as good as advertised. A win over Spain in World Cup 2010 opened my eyes though, and they have only gotten better in the last four years. With a kind draw after the group stage, they could end up in the semi-finals.

Group prediction: 1st

 

 

GROUP F


Argentina - (WR 5) 

 

PL Talent (3) -- Pablo Zabaleta (Manchester City), Sergio Aguero (Manchester City), Martin Demichelis (Manchester City)

Thoughts: Plenty of prognosticators are backing Argentina to take the trophy this year, and for good reason, they are loaded with top talent. Their Achilles' heel has been defending though they have half of league champions Manchester City's back line to utilize. In attack, there is no question....Messi, Higuain, Aguero...it is almost unfair. Bosnia may provide a bit of a test but otherwise, the Argentineans could easily sweep the group stage for 9 points.

Group Prediction: 1st

 

Bosnia-Herzegovina - (WR 21)

 

PL Talent (2) -- Edin Dzeko (Manchester City), Asmir Begovic (Stoke City)

Thoughts: Bosnia-Herzegovina may have had the luckiest draw in the tournament. Ranked outside the top 20, they find themselves in a group with two countries ranked outside the top 40, along with Argentina, who no other country in the group can picture beating, so that cancels itself out. It will be entertaining to see Dzeko on the pitch trying to penetrate an Argentine defense half comprised of club teammates. 

Group Prediction: 2nd

 

Iran - (WR 43)

 

PL Talent (1) -- Ashkan Dejagah (Fulham)

Thoughts: Iran are not being given much of a chance to get out of the group stage, but they can provide some drama early on. They play Nigeria first, their best hope at three points, and if they can pull that off, optimism will be rampant. Their lone PL rep Ashkan Dejagah scored a couple of amazing clutch goals for Fulham, perhaps he can find another for his country.

Group Prediction: 3rd

 

Nigeria - (WR 44)

 

PL Talent (6) -- Joseph Yobo (Norwich City), Peter Odemwingie (Stoke City), John Obi Mikel (Chelsea), Victor Moses (Chelsea), Shola Ameobi (Newcastle), Kenneth Omeruo (Middlesbrough)

Thoughts: Having had the opportunity to watch them first hand in their final tune-up friendly against the United States, I have to say things don't look promising for Nigeria. They are a banged up side right now and showed a lack of energy for the full 90 minutes, looking rather lethargic after about an hour.  Their starting left back , Elderson Echiejile, is their latest casualty, with a hamstring injury ruling him out of the Cup. Plenty of PL talent to watch here, but only Peter Odemwingie among the group is entering the competition in any kind of form.

Group prediction: 4th



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GROUP G


Germany - (WR 2) 

 

PL Talent (4) -- Mesut Ozil (Arsenal), Andre Schurrle (Chelsea), Lukas Podolski (Arsenal), Per Mertesacker (Arsenal)

Thoughts: As they are every four year, the Germans are loaded with mega-talent, including a strong Arsenal influence, as Ozil, Podolski and Mertesacker should see plenty of pitch time in the tournament. Marco Reus would probably be the best player by far on half the teams in this tournament, but his absence due to injury only means he can be replaced by someone who would be the best player on 40% of the other teams in the tourney. 

Group Prediction: 1st

 

Ghana - (WR 37)

 

PL Talent (1) -- Albert Adomah (Middlesbrough)

Thoughts: Ghana have arguably the best attacking group from the African nations and have plenty of experience to build off of from past World Cups.  Like the United States though, they pale in comparison to the powerful juggernauts that are Germany and Portugal. They have to beat the United States in their opening match for any shot at the KO stage, and I think they will only draw with the US at best.

Group Prediction: 4th

 

Portugal - (WR 4)

 

PL Talent (1) -- Nani (Manchester United)

Thoughts: Portugal might feel more at home in a tournament hosted by Brazil than they would most places on their own continent..news flash -- Portugal have a pretty tight connection to the host country. Cristiano Ronaldo is obviously the star of the show, and it appears his injury worries are behind him, scoring in the opening minute of Portugal's final tune-up friendly. They are capable of winning the whole shooting match, but they tend to come up short against the elite, losing to Germany and Spain during their Euro 2012 run.

Group Prediction: 2nd

 

United States - (WR 13)

 

PL Talent (4) -- Tim Howard (Everton), Brad Guzan (Aston Villa), Jozy Altidore (Sunderland), Geoff Cameron (Stoke City)

Thoughts: How do I present an unbiased view of the US's chances in the group. The truth is, I can't. I want to rationalize how they have done nothing but effectively plan to get back at Ghana, and that somehow they can steal a draw from either Portugal or perhaps if the Germans have things locked up going into the final game, they will sleepwalk while the US take advantage. I think it is optimism more than sound reasoning though. One thing is for sure - we HAVE to beat Ghana, or else we don't deserve to advance anywhere, because we would have then proven that we have not gotten any better in the past four years.

Group prediction: 3rd

 

 

GROUP H


Algeria - (WR 22) 

 

PL Talent (3) -- Essaid Belkalem (Watford), Nabil Bentaleb (Tottenham), Riyad Mahrez (Leicester City)

Thoughts: Probably the biggest surprise I encountered while researching the nations involved in Brazil was to see that Algeria has ascended to the highest FIFA ranking of all the African nations, when for years one would expect to see Nigeria, Ivory Coast, Ghana, or even Cameroon. It would be nice to see them take the next step and get through to the round of 16, but for them, the next step needs to be to just score once in the tournament, something they didn't do four years ago. I think they will against South Korea, but they come up short on advancing.

Group Prediction: 3rd

 

Belgium - (WR 11)

 

PL Talent () -- Thomas Vermaelen (Arsenal), Vincent Kompany (Manchester City), Jan Vertonghen (Tottenham), Marouane Fellaini (Manchester United), Romelu Lukaku (Chelsea- Everton loanee), Eden Hazard (Chelsea), Kevin Mirallas (Everton), Simon Mignolet (Liverpool), Moussa Dembele (Tottenham), Nacer Chadli (Tottenham), Adnan Januzaj (Manchester United)

Thoughts: If you want to back a country that isn't the same-old, same-old...Belgium has been anointed the "country to watch" in this tournament. They are young, energetic, physical and technically brilliant. While it is a shame Christian Benteke will be absent due to injury, another young PL superstar, Romelu Lukaku will be there to boss the area. And if strikers can't get it done, there's Hazard, who just proved for the past year while at Chelsea that he can carry the attack if the strikers are invisible.

Group Prediction: 1st

 

Russia - (WR 19)

 

PL Talent (0) 

Thoughts: I suppose it isn't exactly nepotism, but Russia is almost an island unto themselves on the international stage. Not only is their squad void of any Premier League talent, it is void of talent from clubs ANYWHERE outside the Russian Premier League.  I suppose it would make sense then that at times in tournaments, they tend to become their own worst enemy. Plenty of talent but it can be hit or miss. It is possible that Algeria can oust them for the ticket out of the group, but while Algeria may have the stronger defense, it is outweighed by Russia's attacking superiority.

Group Prediction: 2nd

 

South Korea - (WR 57)

 

PL Talent (2) -- Yun Suk-young (QPR), Kim Bo-kyung (Cardiff City), Park Chu-young (Watford), Ki Sung-yueng (Sunderland), Lee Chung-yong (Bolton Wanderers)

Thoughts: There is no doubt that South Korea have been underrated on the international stage. Yet, they made it to the KO stage four years ago and was a force to be reckoned with in 2002 when they began to raise eyebrows. Still, it appears I am willing to perpetuate this undervaluing of South Korea, as I see them going winless in the group, with two draws being their best realistic outcome.

Group prediction: 4th



Steve Rothgeb is a contributor for Rotoworld.com and WorldSoccerTalk.com, a self-proclaimed fantasy sports oracle, and Tottenham Hotspur fanatic. He can be found on Twitter @FuzzyWarbles.
Email :Steve Rothgeb



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